Ratas: EU supports wish of Belarusian people to choose their own future
Speaking at an extraordinary video summit of the European Union on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas emphasized the importance of the EU's support for the wish of the people of Belarus for democratic change and the need to stop violence, release the people detained unlawfully and start a dialogue within the country involving everyone.
Ratas said the EU does not recognize the results of the presidential election in Belarus because the elections were neither free nor fair.
"We support the aspirations and the wish of the Belarusian people for change. Only they have the right to freely choose their path," Ratas said.
He stressed that violent suppression of peaceful protests and oppression of the opposition cannot be accepted.
"The people of Belarus have demonstrated a wish for democratic change, however, the leadership of Belarus has responded to it with force and violence. We call on the authorities to refrain from any violence, release all political prisoners and those that have been detained during the protests and start a dialogue involving all parties to find a solution," Ratas said.
Ratas highlighted the importance of EU support for the civil society of Belarus.
"The people of Belarus must be able to count on the assistance of the European Union. We must continue helping via the Eastern Partnership and increase support for the civil society and free media of Belarus," the Estonian premier said.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, informed the Council about the Commission's intention to increase support for Belarus.
At the meeting the EU agreed to impose sanctions against a substantial number of individuals responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results.
It also agreed to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the crisis, and the Council supported the idea for the involvement of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
EU stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus and does not recognise the results of Presidential elections. Only the people of Belarus have the democratic right to freely elect their leaders and shape their future. Violence has to stop and dialogue needs to start #EUCO pic.twitter.com/NYtpUA8SRL— Jüri Ratas (@ratasjuri) August 19, 2020
The government of Estonia on Tuesday ruled to provide €100,000 in support for the civil society of Belarus.
The prime minister of Estonia also described it as important that the developments in Belarus were under the attention of the international community.
"On the initiative of Estonia, the UN Security Council yesterday discussed the developments in Belarus. It is definitely important that the European Union and the member states act promptly and actively on the topic of Belarus in international organizations. Together our voice is louder," Ratas said.
The EU leaders also talked about illegal drilling by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean and the anti-constitutional coup in Mali.
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Editor: Helen Wright